Safer Giving in Ramadan

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Last year, after Ramadan, I contacted a number of charities who had run Ramadan appeals. I wrote a blog about their appeals and the work they would deliver – about honeybee farms in Pakistan; micro-dam building in Mali; and chocolate fudge-cake deliveries in the UK.

There was some interest in the story in the Press, not because of my blog, but because of a statistic from Muslim Charities Forum in it – that British Muslims gave £100million during Ramadan, which equates to about £38 a second.  It is a remarkable statistic.

It is something which strikes me daily, both in working with charities and in my personal life, that every pound which people give to a charity is something they could have used for another cause: for themselves; for their loved ones; or even for a different charity.

People work hard for their money.  They (we) deserve to have it go to the right cause.  This is the primary reason that the Charity Commission exists – to help make sure that the public’s charitable donations are spent as they should be.

For the charities themselves, this is not only a responsibility, but an opportunity and even an honour.  It is a wonderful thing that charities get to make a real difference in people’s lives.  That is normally why people get into charitable work in the first place.

With £100million, a huge difference can be made.  The biggest possible difference can be made if all of this money goes to really well-run and accountable charities and projects.  This is the legal responsibility of all trustees who allow fundraisers on their premises.  Checking these fundraisers and their charities out does not require undue effort.  But it will make a huge – and real – difference.  Some of that money may even be yours…

Tips for Mosques running charitable collections for third parties during Ramadan:

  • If another English or Welsh charity wishes to conduct an appeal at your mosque, or you wish to collect on their behalf, check whether they are registered – you can find details of all registered charities on the Charity Commission’s website gov.uk/charity-commission (click on ‘Find Charities – search the Charity Register’).
  • Even if they are registered, satisfy yourselves that they are a legitimate charity: ask questions about how the funds you raise will ultimately be used. Check their website and any other relevant sources, such as their references, for further information about how they have used funds raised in the past.
  • Checks are also very important where fundraisers from overseas want to raise money on your premises, and can be more difficult to undertake. Check that the overseas charity is registered with any relevant overseas regulators, ask to see references and evidence of previous projects they have undertaken, and look out for suspicious signs, such as a lack of clarity on how the money raised will ultimately be used.
  • After the appeal, obtain information to satisfy yourselves that the money has been spent for the purposes it was raised. It is good practice to provide feedback on how the funds have been used (for example, via a noticeboard).

If you are raising/holding money in cash

  • Ramadan collections often generate significant cash donations. Trustees should ensure that cash received is properly counted, kept securely, and banked quickly.  The money should then be issued to the fundraiser’s charity via formal banking methods, such as cheque or bank transfer.
  • Collection boxes should be sealed before use so that it is clear if they have been opened before they are returned.
  • Trustees should obtain receipts for cash payments to other charities and these should be promptly recorded in the accounting records.
  • If cash is kept on the premises overnight, it should be kept securely in a safe or locked box. Trustees should consider obtaining adequate insurance cover for cash which is held on the premises.

Nick Donaldson, Head of Faith Charities Engagement

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